By Erica Schmidt, FCN regional staff
Kandice Goas had worked in human resources for corporate America for the past 27 years of her life. For every holiday, Goas would bring in her homemade caramel corn, made from a recipe she used to make together with her mother as a child, to share with her coworkers. Every time she brought the treat to share, Goas would get comment after comment about how people loved it.
Now, the single mother of three is pursuing her passion for cooking full-time by starting her own business: Kandie’s Korn.
“One day in March I’d brought my caramel corn in and I overheard some guys talking in the break room and going on and on about how great it was, so I went home and emailed somebody to ask if they could make a logo of me as a cartoon with my apron,” Goas said. “He sent the logo back the next day, and I just said ‘OK, I’m doing this’”
About a month after first getting the idea to start her own business, Goas officially quit her job and never looked back.
Since then, she has started selling her home-baked caramel corn online, the Dawsonville Farmer’s Market, the Cumming Farmer’s Market and anywhere else she can set up a booth.
The decision to quit her corporate job and go all-in with her caramel corn business was one that was both exciting and intimidating, according to Goas.
“I was relieved in the sense that I didn’t have the everyday stress of the corporate world and the company that I was working for, so I was relieved to leave that toxic situation,” Goas said. “But I was also nervous thinking what if I fail at this or it doesn’t work? I have three girls, two of whom are still at home and depend on me.”
But according to Goas, she has always been a go-getter and was determined to pursue her dream.
“It was nerve-wracking, but I’ve always been headstrong, so failure is not an option,” Goas said.
Now, several months later, Goas has built a following for her homemade caramel corn and has branched out to include several new flavors for her business’s offerings, including cheese, peanut butter, and “Kracker Knax,” her own spin on the classic Cracker Jack popcorn.
“People love the Kracker Knax — the other day I had a gentleman call me who had picked up a couple bags of them,” Goas said. “And he said ‘I stopped at your booth and had to call you personally and tell you that as soon as I ate your product it brought me back to the ’50s when I was a kid and what Cracker Jack used to taste like.’ And I was crying over the phone hearing that because that was just so sweet.”
Kandie’s Korn is unique in that it is lighter and not as hard to chew as some of the other brands of caramel corn on the market, and because Goas makes each batch fresh to order.
“Quality is really important to me,” Goas said, “So I bake everything fresh to order, and I bake for all the tent sales usually the day before so everything is literally as fresh as possible.”
Goas currently operates out of her house, but her goal is to have her own storefront.
“I have a license through the state so I do it at home now, but eventually I would love to have a storefront,” Goas said. “I just need to increase my revenue enough to justify that.”
In addition to being at the Dawsonville Farmer’s Market and the Cumming Farmer’s Market every week, Goas sets up a pop-up tent off of Jot Em Down Road. She also offers online ordering and either ships her products or delivers if the customer is close.
“I ship throughout the United States, and then I do local delivery and local pick up for people that are in the area,” Goas said. “Any way I can get orders and sell it, I’ll do it.”
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One of the factors that drives Goas is her three daughters, 24-year-old Jillian, Breanne, 19, and 13-year-old Bailey. Her two younger daughters live at home with their mother, and Breanne in particular is a huge help to Goas business.
“My 19-year-old does help me; usually she’ll run the booth at the Cumming Farmer’s Market when I do the Dawsonville one because they’re at the same time,” Goas said. “And she’ll help me put labels on stuff — she just doesn’t help with the baking because I’m the only one who knows exactly how it’s supposed to taste so I do that all myself.”
One of the most rewarding parts about Kandie’s Korn has been the hugely favorable reception by the community, according to Goas.
“The other day I had left the farmers market and was headed to the post office and I had a couple that had attended my tent sale pull up next to me in traffic at the light and start beeping, waving and calling ‘do you have any caramel corn on you?” Goas said. “It’s just so amazing to have your customers love you so much — everybody is so great.”
A small way in which Goas tries to give back to her customers is by including a personal, handwritten note in each box of caramel corn.
“I always put a thank you card for the customer into my boxes,” Goas said.“I just want customers to know that they’re appreciated, and I want to be set apart from a typical business; I want them to feel special when they order something.”
To Goas, the overarching goal of Kandie’s Korn is to build something to someday leave for her children.
“I’m trying to build a legacy for my children, so God forbid when I leave my kids someday I have something to leave for them,” Goas said. “That’s the goal and kind of really one of the reasons I left corporate America was so I could leave my kids something.”
You can find Kandie’s Korn set up on Saturdays at the Dawsonville Farmer’s Market or at the Cumming Farmer’s Market. All other pop-up tent sales are announced a day or two ahead of time on social media, and online orders can be placed at any time on the Kandie’s Korn website.
“I always have sales going on, so follow my social media pages and my website for those and to know where I’m going to be when,” Goas said. “And I’m going to try to start setting up at different locations so I can try to reach more customers, so I’ll announce that on there too.”